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Influence of processing and in vitro digestion on the allergic cross-reactivity of three mealworm species

van Broekhoven, Sarah, Bastiaan-Net, Shanna, de Jong, Nicolette W., Wichers, Harry J.
Food chemistry 2016 v.196 pp. 1075-1083
Alphitobius diaperinus, Crustacea, Tenebrio molitor, Zophobas atratus, allergenicity, alpha-amylase, cross reaction, dust mites, edible insects, heat treatment, humans, hypersensitivity, immunoglobulin E, in vitro digestion, muscles, myosin, patients, protein sources, risk, tropomyosins
Edible insects are currently being evaluated as an alternative and more sustainable protein source for humans. The introduction of new food sources can lead to development of novel allergies. Because in the Western world, insects are unlikely to be consumed raw, it is important to know how processing and in vitro digestion might influence their allergenicity. Three edible mealworm species (Tenebrio molitor, Zophobas atratus and Alphitobius diaperinus) subjected to processing and in vitro digestion were analysed for IgE cross-reactivity. Immunoblot and MALDI-MS/MS analyses revealed that IgE from crustaceans or House dust mite (HDM) allergic patients showed cross-reactivity to mealworm tropomyosin or α-amylase, hexamerin 1B precursor and muscle myosin, respectively. Heat processing as well as in vitro digestion did diminish, but not eliminate, HDM or tropomyosin IgE cross-reactivity.Results show that individuals allergic to HDM or crustaceans might be at risk when consuming mealworms, even after heat processing.